A telephone call from WKVI News to the Indiana Department of Natural Resources has brought more clarity to the question of whether seasonal campsite leases are allowed at Bass Lake Beach and Campground. Bob Bronson is the section chief for the DNR Division of Outdoor Recreation. He originally told us camping is limited to two weeks at a time at properties like Bass Lake, which get funds from the federal Land and Water Conservation Act. Bronson has since spoken to officials with the National Park Service and learned otherwise.
“There is no policy on the length of how long you can camp. The state has policies and recommendations, but the funding source and Land and Water Conservation Act does not direct how long somebody can stay at a campground,” Bronson told WKVI News late Thursday.
Bronson added the law does have one major stipulation.
“If they were using it as a permanent residence, then that turns into what they call a conversion because the property really is being solely used by one entity, and they’re almost squatting on the property. But if they’re long-term camping, then that is legit.”
Bronson said the Land and Water Conservation Act encourages property owners and managers to use a lottery system to assign campsites.
“There isn’t anything in the manual as written as in policy. Once again that’s a recommendation and best practices recommendation, but that’s not a policy written in the manual either.”
The Starke County Commissioners have charged the newly-appointed county park board with oversight of Bass Lake Beach and Campground. The five-member panel will ultimately decide whether to allow seasonal camping there. They are scheduled to meet Tuesday, Nov. 18 at 6 p.m. CST at the Starke County Annex Building.
Bronson recently inspected Bass Lake Beach and Campground. Read his report here Bass Lake Beach and Campground Inspection Report